Susan Marie Molloy

🌺 Life in the Oasis 🌴


8 Comments

My New Novelette – Available on Kindle for Free April 12 and 13, 2018.

My latest novelette, “The Stars Do Not Judge” is now available on Kindle April 12 and 13, 2018.  Here’s the LINK.

It’s the story about a high school reunion. Each chapter is written in a different voice and different tense. I know this style isn’t for everyone, and I think it’s best readers know this upfront.

That being said, this novelette’s chapters are like vignettes — little peeks into lives and personalities we all know and love or dislike. There’s humor, tragedy, happiness, and sadness, but overall this is a light look into the human condition.

I invite you to pick up a copy of the Kindle version and review it, either on Goodreads or Amazon. I am working on the paperback version, so please bear with me since I want a “perfect” presentation in that format.

Thank you, and happy reading!

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

Advertisements


6 Comments

Book Review: “Come Fly with Me” by Gigi Sedlmayer

Recently, I was fortunate for having the opportunity to read a copy of Gigi Sedlmayer’s book, “Come Fly with Me.”

This tale introduces us to Matica, a little girl who lives with her missionary family in a remote mountain village in Peru. She has a growth disability that makes her stand out, and the Indians in the village shy away from her. Indeed, she is visually different from everyone else, and that worries little Matica, particularly since she thinks she will not be accepted, and she is self-conscious about this.

Matica befriends two condors that she calls Tima and Tamo, and she can communicate with them in her own way. Meanwhile, from afar, the Indians, ever curious and watchful, observe her, and before we know it, they accept Matica for who she is and not for what she looks like. Soon thereafter, when the nefarious poachers threaten to steal Tima and Tamo’s only egg, she helps to save it, and in a surprising way. When the egg hatches, Matica names the new chick Talon, and a new adventure begins.

I enjoyed this motivating and provoking story because it is very well-written and sends good, wholesome, and inspirational lessons to readers, that is, one should never judge by looks alone, for inside might be the most beautiful soul one will ever meet. In addition, there is the message that we humans are ultimately the caretakers of animals, and how we take care of them or not, is invaluable to the overall world, in all ways possible.

This is a wonderful book that is appropriate for young readers, too; there is no vulgar language (a rarity these days in newer-written books). This story is an inspirational one and is truly calming, pleasant, and charming to read. The author, Gigi Sedlmayer, has a lovely writing style that takes the reader into another world, where the present does not exist, and the story becomes reality. It’s difficult to find many books that do that for me, and “Come Fly with Me” succeeds on a grand scale.

Thank you to author Gigi Sedlmayer for offering a copy of her book and for the opportunity for me to read and review it. I recommend “Come Fly with Me” for readers who enjoy wholesome and thought-inspiring books. You can find her book on Amazon by clicking HERE.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


10 Comments

Book Review: “Bridge of Sighs and Dreams” by Pamela Allegretto

These days, it’s a rare occasion to come across a well-written, beautifully told story that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned, and the book cover closed. Pamela Allegretto’s “Bridge of Sighs and Dreams” is one of those remarkable, extraordinary novels that I have been privileged to read this year.

This story, an historical fiction novel set in Rome, Italy during the Fascist government and the subsequent Nazi-occupation and Allied liberation, tells the story of Angelina Rosini and Lidia Corsini and their intersecting lives that are fraught with love, betrayal, sacrifice, lust for power, greed, and duplicity, and triumph.

When Angelina Rosini’s village is bombed, she and her daughter, Gina, flee to Rome after an Allied attack. Meanwhile, her husband, Pietro, joins the military. Though she is apolitical, she finds herself thrust into the world of the Italian Resistance with both trustworthy and nefarious individuals. Angelia continues her artwork, sketching anti-Fascist cartoons and painting portraits to survive.

Conversely, Angelina’s sister-in-law, who is Pietro’s sister, is busy conniving ways to cozy up to the Nazis to fill her purse, ego, and appetite for social position. She stops at nothing, first with snitching against Jews and ultimately betraying her family, including her son, Carmine.

Pamela Allegretto’s writing style is beautiful and lyrical, and I became engrossed in the setting, characters, and story.

“They dined on baked gnocchi and roasted eggplant with red peppers and rosemary. They each were served a Rosetta Veneziana, a tender roll shaped like a flower with its petals neatly tucked in the center. Angela peeled the petals from her roll, ate one, and left the rest to wilt on her plate.”

This is beautiful imagery that wakes up the olfactory and visual senses. I could almost (maybe I did) smell the fresh yeast from the bread, the pungent rosemary on the eggplant, see the darkened red peppers against the creamy flesh of the eggplant, and the blending of all colors and aromas around the dining table that honestly delighted me.

Throughout the novel, the author cleverly and brilliantly inserts smatterings of Italian, which adds to the flavor and emotion of the story. For example: “’“Poverina,” the man mumbled. “This war has cast its evil shadow in her mind.”’ The Italian word “poverina” doesn’t distract from the pace nor the narrative. I found it charming and apropos to the story. Furthermore, there is the tiniest bit of German, but that, too, the reader should understand without being fluent: “He rolled down his window and said, ‘Guten Morgen.’”

Because the story is set during World War II, I fully expected to see violent scenes, gore, and death. That is reality, and to the author’s credit, she conveyed those scenes with reality and class. Yes, the reader sees bullets grazing limbs and bullets passing through bodies and a knife thrust into flesh, but the “blood and guts” is shown is such a way that it doesn’t force the reader to ruminate on it, but rather it allows the reader to understand it is presented as a fact of war, and then the action moves along to the next scene.

The world is war-ravaged: “They passed a smoldering vineyard, whose memory of emerald leaves and purple grapes now dulled to shades of gray ash.” Yet, it is established that even with the destruction, the reader can see the bit of beauty and greater hope still holding on.

Nevertheless, this is not a completely dark and joyless story. As the reader will discover, there is humor in war:

‘” The soldier unfolded the presumed incriminating paper and read aloud from it, “Pane, olio, vino…” “That’s a shopping list!” the first soldier exclaimed, grabbing the list and reading it himself. Frustrated, the soldier pulled Michele away from the wall and said, “Michele Ponza, you are under arrest.” “What are the charges?” Michele mocked the soldier. “Did I forget to add the milk?”’

I laughed with and cheered on Michele simultaneously. Bravissimo!

Additionally, there is bliss in the simplest thing as eating long-denied chocolates:

“She stared at this nun, who had chocolate dripping from her lips, and she wondered if everyone in the convent might be a bit round the bend.”

The characters are so very well and expertly developed that the reader cannot help but care one way or another about them, and hope for their rewards.

Indeed, early on, Lidia reveals her disdain for her husband: “You’re such a worm.” Her malevolent demeanor and hate towards everyone show an apparent no end.  Conversely, despite the difficulties and deaths that Angelina faces, we always feel her strength and benevolence that even under the gloomiest conditions, she finds sunshine and holds onto some of the basic human qualities: courage and hope.

This is a novel well worth reading and re-reading for its historical accuracy, expressive and lyrical writing style, and fascinating story with characters that are both appealing and repulsive.

But then, that is life, and those are people, no matter the era or location. And that is the reality of what makes this novel worth reading and savoring.  You can find “Bridge of Sighs and Dreams” by Pamela Allegretto HERE on Amazon.

Read more of my book reviews and recommendations on Goodreads, Susan Marie Molloy (Author).

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


2 Comments

Book Review: “My Private Life” and World War II

Some things have a way of becoming precious, like a treasure chest filled with rare gems and metals.

Recently, I was given a self-published book as a gift. It was a delightful surprise at what it contained. This book, published in 1995, originally belonged to a friend of my family who served in the Marines with the author during World War II, specifically at the Battle of Iwo Jima, February 19 – March 26, 1945.

“My Private Life” is the autobiography-memoir of Bill Alexander from Barren County, Kentucky. Raised on a tobacco farm, he was born in 1925, and barely ventured out of the county. That is, until he joined the service.

Bill Alexander begins with his young years, remembering life on the farm, how they grew tobacco and supported themselves. A cow provided milk and butter, they had a large garden, and they raised meat, too, and the lean years of the Great Depression. There was one year when the biggest hub-bub was when the sole stop sign in town was installed, and there was a big debate on who should pay for it – the state or the county. Yes, this book is as homespun as that, and it’s a refreshing piece of work.

Alexander continues with his recollections with how the news came to his town with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and how the older generation believed the war would end soon; soon enough that Alexander would not even be old enough to be drafted. All news was either via radios, and the newspapers would be kept at the town’s grocery store-post office, where anyone could stop and stick around to pour over the news.

But we know that the war didn’t end that fast. Alexander turned 18, enlisted in the Navy, was turned down, then was accepted several months later, and then was “volunteered” into the Marines, which he didn’t expect. Marines! He never thought he was good enough for that branch.

Alexander gives a clear telling of his trip to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Great Lakes is in North Chicago, Illinois and is the largest military installation in Illinois. This was boot camp. Here we get a firsthand look at what boot camp was back then.

From there, Alexander recounts his orders for San Diego, California. This was his first long cross-country train trip. He was practically speechless at the sights he saw, the fellow servicemen he met, the different types of food in the dining car, and his story of the cigarettes. It seems he ran out of what he had and was resigned to the fact he would be cigarette-less for a long while, until a porter approached him with several partial packs of Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, Marvels, Twenty Grands, and Camels. The porter’s job was to clean up the cars, including all the abandoned cigarettes. He was kind enough to give all of them to Alexander.

He was very surprised that he did not have to pay for anything on the train. All meals were paid for. In fact, he had ten dollars in his wallet and was glad he could save that – until he lost it in a penny ante poker game on board.

Alexander continues his memoir with his arrival at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. He quickly learned how to field strip his rifle and to only say “sir” to officers. As he would often say, being a southern boy, it was natural and ingrained in him to say “sir” and “ma’am” to everyone; however, he learned fast not to say “sir” to fellow privates.

From California, his first assignment was to Guam, then quickly to Hawaii. Here is where he was put in charge of dressing a cow that was “accidently” killed by rifle fire. The farmer was compensated for his livestock loss. Based on another incident Alexander recounts in this book, such “accidents” by the military always resulted in compensation to the farmers. Whoops. Sorry. Here’s your reimbursement.

From there, Alexander was sent to Iwo Jima, where he saw battle. He described incidents during the battle, and what life was on a hospital ship, where he was transferred when he was wounded in the battle.

Afterwards, Alexander was shipped back home via San Francisco. He related a story where he and his buddies were invited to Big Nick’s nightclub in Frisco, where he drank and dined with Big Nick himself. This appears to be an honor that Big Nick didn’t bestow on just anyone. Alexander must have been awe-struck at the seemingly endless choices of meats, desserts, and the plethora of wines– Seven! And he didn’t know there were so many types of wines!

He was making his way back home to Kentucky. When he got to Charleston, South Carolina, he discovered there was a POW (prisoner of war) camp there that kept German POWs who performed simple jobs around the base. He met one at the naval station who was buffing a newly-cleaned floor. He was surprised that the German said “Excuse me” in perfect English.

While still in Charleston, Alexander met Helen Keller, and he seemed excited about that.

I found this book compelling and completely fascinating. There is so much more packed in these 226 pages; I tried hard not to reveal too much because then I would be re-telling it all. There are about 19 pages of black and white photographs from the National Archives that show Marines in action and what Iwo Jima looked like in the mid-1940s.

This book is such a refreshing departure from the forced, flowery language of similar memoirs I have read, particularly those of the more well-known variety. Alexander wrote with such simplicity, humor, and heart that I felt with each turn of the page he was probably the type of man you could sit down with a cup of coffee and become mesmerized with all the stories and experiences he had.

This book is autographed by Bill Alexander with a dated dedication to the friend of my family.

If you can find this book, get it, and read it. Truthfully, I don’t know if this book is still available to buy; there is an address at the back of it, so if you are adventurous enough to see if it is, please let me know and I’ll provide that address. It’s a post office box, so it’s anyone’s guess if it’s still assigned to the author or his family.

There’s nothing like a primary source such as this one when researching and learning about our American history and culture. I read it in the space of about two hours. It’ll stay with me for the rest of my life.

NOTE: As an aside to my review, the chapter where Bill Alexander recounts his experiences at Great Lakes became close to my own understanding and experiences. There is where my great Uncle Tony (Grandma’s brother) was sent when he enlisted in the United States Navy in early 1919. My Uncle Ed (Grandma’s son) went there when he enlisted the Navy in early 1942. My second cousins, Cousins Stanley and Chester also were sent there in early 1942 when they enlisted. And me? Well, sometimes my girlfriends and I drove up there on a Friday here and there in the late 1970s to hobnob and dance with the sailors at the club.

Oh, you crazy kids.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


4 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: “The Creature from Cleveland Depths”

Last week I read a novelette written in 1962 by Fritz Leiber called, “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” and not only did I learn a lot from this story, but also about its author.

Fritz Leiber (1910-92) coined the term “sword and sorcery” fantasy stories, and he is regarded as one of the fathers of that genre. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Fritz Leiber, Sr. (also born in Chicago, 1882-1949) was a Shakespearean actor and played in a few movies. In fact, he was in “Samson and Delilah” (1949) which I watched and reviewed on my recent blog, “At the Movies: ‘Samson’”.

Returning to Fritz, Jr. — He wrote a lot of science fiction and the sword-and-sorcery type of short stories and books. Lately, I read quite a few of his works, and when I read “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” I was surprised at how modern it is, even though it was written 56 years ago.

Here, in a world where people live underground, we get a glimpse into our future, which is now our present: social media, smartphones, drones, and a crazy invention called the “Tickler”, which everyone wears on his shoulder. It speaks through an earpiece. It sends a little tickle through one’s body as it indoctrinates positive thinking, injects drugs, makes decisions for people, reminds people to do certain things, et cetera. Over a short period of time, people become mindless zombies/robot-like beings.

I got a kick out of the scene where individual-servings of martinis in carboard boxes (much like single servings of wine and cocktails in glass bottles we see on today’s store shelves) are offered. Moreover, the mindless fads in this story mimics today’s fads, including one where boys and girls both wear full face makeup, much to the chagrin of the police.

This is a good, fascinating, and quick-reading story that you can pick up for nothing on Amazon Kindle. It was one of the best stories I read last week, and a little creepier that any of the Dick Tracy comics I used to read when I was a kid. But then, that two-way wrist radio Tracy wore—

Yesterday’s fiction is today’s truth.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.